Ivyland, Miles Klee, OR Books, 2011, 528 pp
It seems that every year the Tournament of Books features one off-beat, somewhat experimental novel by an under known author. Ivyland takes that spot this year.
A sort of post apocalyptic, disjointed, phantasmagorical romp by way of multiple voices, it left me confused and reeling.
At least it is set in New Jersey, where I grew up, so I am familiar in a hazy way with Trenton and the Pine Barrens and the Jersey shore. The characters are mainly teens from broken families but everyone suffers from a Big Pharma created scourge, either economically, emotionally, mentally, or because of a gruesome physical disability. Everyone is also on multiple drugs plus heavy alcohol intake.
So the story is a nightmare, owing much to Kafka, Bob Dylan and television...I could go on but I would only be showing off or feeling more confused. Underlying all the weirdness is a deep, pulsing sadness, festering like a wound not healing properly. By the time I reached the end I felt quite hopeless about the future of anyone or anything.
Did I like Ivyland? Not really. But somehow I kind of respected whatever Miles Klee was trying to do. I would read his next book just to see where he goes from here.